Paper Money Guaranty (PMG) recently authenticated and
graded a stunning, unlisted 1975 People’s Republic of China (PRC) 2 Yuan proof
note. It is graded PMG 62 Uncirculated.
This proposed 1975-dated design was ultimately not
approved for circulation and was never officially issued. Unlike many proof
that are printed on thin India paper, this proof is printed on bank note-grade
paper watermarked with patterned stars. Given the high-quality paper used, and
the fact that the main print design on both the front and back is in
high-quality intaglio, the design was evidently quite well progressed before
the proposed design was rejected.
Due to its scarcity, Pick 858Aa was not widely known
even to specialists prior to this spectacular example being certified by PMG. The
note recently graded PMG AU 50 is tied with one other as the finest
PMG-certified example of this variety.
Printer’s annotations, measurement marks and mounting
remnants are clearly visible on the note, but fortunately they are constrained
to the selvage area and do not affect the main body and beauty of the note
An ungraded example with similar looking design is
recorded to have been sold by Beijing Chengxuan Auction Company in a November
2010 auction for RMB 1.68 million (about US $253,000 based on historical
exchange rates of the time).
Had this note been issued, it would have fallen
between China’s 1972 5 Jiao issue and the 1980 PRC series issue. Similar design
elements from both the 1960 (Third Series RMB) and the 1980 (Fourth Series RMB)
seem to have been incorporated into this proposed 1975 2 Yuan design. The front
and back central vignettes on this note share the same general look as the
vignettes on the 1960 series notes, while the border design elements share the
same general look as the 1980 series notes.
Speaking of vignettes, who is that fur-capped
gentleman on the front of the note? He is none other than “Iron Man” Wang
Jinxi, a model worker and socialist hero. Wang Jinxi (1923-1970) was born to a
poor peasant family in Yumen County of China’s Gansu province. He rose to fame
in 1960 tirelessly working in the Daqing Oil Field in northeastern China (the
construction site of the Daqing Oil Field is the vignette pictured on the back
of the note). When Mao Zedong and China’s Central Party Committee decided in
1960 to develop the Daqing Oil Field, despite fatigue and injuries, Wang Jinxi
and his famous No. 1205 Drilling Team braved temperatures of between -20 and
-30 C to strike oil. Within three years, Daqing became China’s first world-class
Wang Jinxi is also famously known for preventing an
imminent well blow-out. Faced without mud-mixing equipment that would help
prevent a blow out, he jumped into the mud pool and mixed the mud with his own
body! In 1967 he was made a national labor model, and in 1968 he was elected to
the Ninth Central Committee of the Communist Party. He died of cancer in 1970.
On December 25, 1972, China issued an 8 Fen postage
stamp (Scott No. 1103) honouring Wang Jinxi as a vanguard fighter of the
Chinese working class:
Wang Jinxi’s hard work and sacrifice embodies the
“Ironman Spirit” of the nation. Wang Jinxi’s image on the front of this 1975
unlisted 2 Yuan proof seems entirely fitting for the time and records an
important transition period in China’s paper money design.